Thursday, August 31, 2006

when it rains, it feasts

It's been a good week for Team Clermont artists over at the slowly loading 'fork. First there was the ViS review, which we discussed below, then they ran photos of So Many Dynamos' smoking Chicago show, and now, we've got a long awaited Snowglobe review from Mr. Joe Tangari. Let it rain!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Download: Deerhunter -- "Adorno"

In our ongoing hyping of the Table of the Elements Festival being held in Atlanta this weekend we feature Atlanta-based band Deerhunter today on The Cropper. Recently, the merits of the ToE fest have been sung by Dusted, Tiny Mix Tapes, and Signal To Noise to name only a few, so I won't dwell on that. Instead, I'll focus on revealing what little I know about Deerhunter:

1) they're playing on Saturday night, the same night as One Umbrella, and Rhys Chatham

2) two of their members put on a thing at the Eyedrum last year that brought down a host of acts that rarely grace Southern soil including: No Neck Blues Band, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Charlambides, Magik Markers, Excepter, and Burning Star Core

3) the 'croppers' own Lucas Jensen records in the same space as Deerhunter, and claims that the stuff he's heard off of their upcoming Kranky Records LP is dynamite

4) the song we're posting today is not from that record, but from their first LP

5) one of them is very slender, and he looks frighteningly similar to my buddy Justin Andrews...for real

So, enjoy their tune, and we hope to see you at their performance this weekend!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Venice is Sinking update

Athens, Ga's own Venice is Sinking finally got the Pitchfork review that singer/guitarist Daniel 'tiny d' Lawson has been bugging me about for the last three months. Phew. But seriously folks, this is quite the feather in the cap for ViS and puts the finishing touches on a very successful run for the band. Maybe now, when you google 'venice is sinking sorry about the flowers', that crappy Stylus review won't be the first one to come up. You can catch them on tour this fall at a variety of locals in the Southeastern United States:

Sep 7 2006 10:00P
The Drunken Unicorn Atlanta, GA
Sep 9 2006 10:00P
The Art Bar Columbia, SC
Sep 13 2006 10:00P
The Georgia Theatre Athens, GA
Sep 15 2006 12:00P
Lunch on Broad Atlanta, GA
Sep 15 2006 10:00P
The Sidebar Gainesville, FL
Sep 22 2006 10:00P
The Map Room Charleston, SC
Sep 23 2006 10:00P
TBA Greensboro, NC
Oct 4 2006 8:00P
Elberton County Fair Elberton, GA
Oct 6 2006 10:00P
TBA Orlando, FL
Oct 7 2006 10:00P
New World Brewery Tampa, FL
Oct 13 2006 10:00P
New Brookland Tavern Columbia, SC

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Lovely Sparrows

Download: The Lovely Sparrows--"Chemicals Change"

The band we bring you today is from Austin, Texas. From what we hear, they've managed to generate some pretty good word of mouth buzz in their hometown, and if their new EP, pulling up floors, pouring on (new) paint, is any indication, it's buzz is well-deserved. With a taut, twenty minute playing length, the Sparrows get in, get to the business of delivering the pop, and get right back out. Attentive readers of the Cropper will have noticed that, in addition to having a sweet-tooth for experimental/noise, we also love some pop music. Lately, we've been particularly moved by pop EPs, having heard great ones by:
The Spinto Band (damn, actually that's just a sampler), The Little Ones, How I Became The Bomb, and Feathers to name only a few. I've started to think that the EP is the best format for pop music in general, although seven-inches are pretty boss in their own right. We also love it when good bands have their records put out by nice, competent labels, which we're glad to say is the case with The Lovely Sparrows. So, do yourself a favor and pick up their music from Abandoned Love Records.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I got those natty man blues.

Download: One Ring Zero -- "Here Come The Mannequins" (from Wake Them Up) MP3 Download: One Ring Zero -- "Natty Man Blues" (lyrics by Paul Auster--from As Smart As We Are) MP3

One Ring Zero is Michael Hearst and Joshua Camp. The Brooklyn-based duo has released five CDs, including their critically acclaimed album, As Smart As We Are, a book-cum-CD, featuring songs with lyrics contributed by such authors as Jonathan Lethem, Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster, Dave Eggers, A.M. Homes, Rick Moody, Neil Gaiman, and Denis Johnson. That's quite a lineup! Plus, that Paul Auster song is way better than that book about a dog that he did (though The Music of Chance is really fantastic.One Ring Zero plays a completely warped and intelligent pop music (I honestly can't come up with a better term, though I have read "ethno-pop" before) that comes off like Tom Waits, The Residents, and They Might Be Giants jamming at a Bar Mitzvah.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Barton Carroll comes a cropper!

Barton Carroll—“Scorched Earth” MP3
Download: Barton Carroll—“Your Name Must Be Mercy” MP3
Download: Barton Carroll—“Small Thing” MP3

Another record from a Crooked Fingers alum and denizen of Seattle (see Trentalange below!), Barton Carroll's Love and War is a stirring, austere collection of whiskey-soaked Appalachia that also gives a hat tip to the British folk scene of the early 70s (Richard Thompson in particular), Townes Van Zandt, and more recent vulnerable troubadours and revivalists like Gillian Welch and Richard Buckner. This is the kind of music that gives it self to you slowly, almost hyper-aware of how unprotected its emotions are, afraid to pile on all at once. In addition to work with Crooked Fingers, Carroll also is a member of Micah P. Hinson's band. From the increasingly excellent Skybucket Records (13ghosts, Dexateens, Wes McDonald).

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Harpooner

Jus' poonin'!

Download: Paul Brill—“Paris Is On” MP3
Download: Paul Brill—“Paris Is On” (Jason Forrest mix) MP3
Download: Paul Brill—“Paris Is On” (Pinto remix) MP3

Paul Brill’s first releases were vulnerable and plaintive twang-kissed affairs that showcased a thoughtful songwriting presence. New Pagan Love Song, his third album, which merged earlier works’ acoustic elements with found sounds, samples, and bent beats, avoided a number of the clich├ęs and self-indulgent foibles of the acoustic guitar-meets-electronics crowd. It was a record made by a songwriter genuinely interested in the possibilities of electronic experiments in songwriting. It was an album of comfortable melancholy that took critics by storm. Harpooner continues further down that path, incorporating heavy-duty cut-and-paste collage elements for a work that comes off like a fever dream. It’s a song of reckoning, a last gasp. Its nine tales regard plague, mental illness, misanthropy, and much salt water. In this thoroughly dismantled pop record, Brill collages found sounds, jigsaw beats, and damaged vocals into a work of boxed-in desperation. "Paris Is On" is probably the poppiest song on the record; included here are remixes by Jason Forrest and Pinto. Enjoy!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Cloud Recordings and two amazing new-ish Athens bands!

Cloud Recordings, run by super-cool folks John, Kelly R., and more, has a seriously stacked fall release schedule, debuting two hot new Athens bands, The New Sound of Numbers and Dark Meat.

The New Sound of Numbers—“Frequency Transmission Systems” MP3
The New Sound of Numbers is a new pop/experimental/post-punk project by Hannah Jones—visual artist and percussionist for Circulatory System and The Instruments. Jones recorded most of the album at home on her own, layering drums, various percussion, 12-string guitar and vocals. Contributions were also made by Heather McIntosh (The Instruments, Elf Power, Japancakes), John Fernandes (Olivia Tremor Control, Circulatory System, Elf Power, Dark Meat), W. Cullen Hart (Olivia Tremor Control, Circulatory System), and Bill Doss (Olivia Tremor Control, The Sunshine Fix). The resulting record gives the listener an upbeat sense of urgency, blending driving rhythms with futuristic sensibilities. Imagine The Raincoats or the Slits with John Cale and Sun Ra mixed in the style of This Heat’s Repeat. It’s a record obsessed with the power of rhythm, a tightened cacophony of chants and tribal beats.

Dark Meat—“Dead Man” MP3
Download: Dark Meat—“Angel of Meth” MP3

Dark Meat is an Athens mega-ensemble that can rock, and sway, and clap their hands to the beat in an area large enough to hold them. After all, Dark Meat regular sports over 15 members; 18 would seem to be a good median number and is the number of the current ensemble. Usually. In fact, it feels like half of the bands in the Athens scene (and beyond) have connections to Dark Meat through various members.

Bands with a connection to Dark Meat include, but are not limited to (are you ready?):

Olivia Tremor Control, We Versus The Shark, South San Gabriel, Elf Power, Circulatory System, Phosphorescent, The Instruments, Col. Knowledge and the Lickety-Splits, Venice Is Sinking, The New Sound of Numbers, Hope for Agoldensummer, Subversivo, The Ginger Envelope, Disband, Ceramic Dvck, Mouser, Folklore, The Gerbils, Vicariously Through Cats (I'm sure I'm leaving people off here)

Imagine The Stooges meets Crazy Horse with killer Stax/funereal marching band horns, wailing gospel-style female backing vocals, ripping Eddie Hazel guitar leads, and Albert Ayler breakdowns. I hear some CCR in there as well. If it all sounds insane, well, it kind of is, in the best possible way. One of Athens' most stellar live experiences, it's pretty great that they were able to capture that lightning in a bottle for the album.

Monday, August 14, 2006

One Umbrella

Download: One Umbrella -- "eintrocinc"

The last time Team Clermont was in Austin, one of the more pleasurable experiences we had was meeting, and hanging out with, Sarah and Carlos from One Umbrella. Their last record, Solve, which today's download is from, was put out by our friends, Tell-All Records. I'd go into more detail describing their music, but fortunately for us all I won't have to as they're coming to Georgia soon to play the Table Of The Elements Festival No. 4. For those unfamiliar with TOE, inclusion in their festival is no small feat for a band like One Umbrella. TOE has put out records by some of the perennial all stars of experimental/avant-garde music, and Carlos and Sarah will share the stage with several heavyweights of the genre. Their set will be on Saturday, September 2nd, with recent Kranky Records signees and Atlanta natives, Deerhunter. The night will close with a headlining performance by none other than the Rhys Chatham Guitar Army. Having seen TOE's showcase this past spring at sxsw, of which Rhys Chatham was a part, I can safely say this event is not to be missed. I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to see another TOE event, and One Umbrella perform. Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Summer Hymns primer!

We are gonna be working a record from Summer Hymns called Backward Masks and I wanted to introduce you guys to some of their older tracks before the new record came out. Their last record, 2003's Clemency, came out before the whole blogging thing went crazy.

Download: Summer Hymns--"Half Sick of Shadows" (from Voice Brother and Sister)
Download: Summer Hymns--"Something's Going On" (from A Celebratory Arm Gesture)
Download: Summer Hymns--"Wet Mess" (from Clemency)

Certainly one of Athens' finest and most consistently rewarding bands, Summer Hymns has taken a lot of time to record its follow-up to the stellar Clemency. Trust me when I say it's gonna be worth the wait and then some. Here is a primer to the band's career, running from the poppier (but still distinctly Southern) work of Voice Brother and Sister through leader Zach Gresham's development into a rootsy songwriter par excellence, always with an eye towards production innovation and never one to turn down a walloping chorus.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Feathers! The Florida one!

Download: Feathers--"Skara Brain" MP3 (from Synchromy)
Download: Feathers--"My Apple Has Four Legs" MP3 (from Absolute Noon)

Are there many more labels out there as exciting as Hometapes? This guy/girl married power combo (now located in Boulder!) are responsible for some solid releases, particularly last year's exquisite Paul Duncan and Caribbean offerings. And the second Feathers EP (that'd be the Feathers from Miami...), Synchromy, is another stunner. Imagine Martin Denny taking the guys from CAN out for shots or bong hits. Hell, that's just promospeak. I'll stop.

This is the kind of instrumental music that reminds you how lame vocals can be and how much instruments, particularly meticulously and surprisingly recorded organic ones (thanks Soma!), can express emotionally. I've thrown a track from their last EP (#1 in this projected series of 3), Absolute Noon, as a bonus. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Some random news.

First off, uber-blog Stereogum likes the Black Neon...a lot! Calling the band a "Band to Watch," Scott says the following:

Memphis Industries, who first hit our radar with the Go! Team, and more recently the Pipettes, have another headhpones treat on their roster with the psychedelic pop of Steve Webster's The Black Neon. His album Arts & Crafts is out in the US 9/12.

"The Truth" recalls recent Air, while "Ralph and Barbara" has an an off-the wall Ween vibe. "Hollywood 1,2,3" is sorta Neu! on Prozac, and guitars. As you can probably guess, there are a hundred other references points to namedrop in describing Black Neon's reverb melting pot; all you need to know is that Webster combines them with a genius pop sensibility.

Thanks, Scott! We obviously think the Black Neon is genius, too!

In other news, Pitchfork wrote a positive review for the new So Many Dynamos "joint" Flashlights. Here's what Cory Byrom had to say in his 7.3 review:

St. Louis' So Many Dynamos have their feet firmly planted on the same shaky, unstable ground as Les Savy Fav and Q and Not U. The tracks on their sophomore release, Flashlights, feature upbeat tempos and driving melodies bursting through chaotic arrangements. Their debut garnered plenty of Dismemberment Plan comparisons, and while vocalist Aaron Stovall still sounds a bit like Travis Morrison, they've built on that foundation to create their own sound-- complete with horns, banjo, piano, and a 30-piece choir. So just like the band has done, let's leave the comparisons behind and let the album hit us head on, with its own strengths and weaknesses.
I think he means shaky in a good way. Go check out the band tonight if you're in the Athens, GA area, as they will be playing at the Happy Happy Birthday To Me Popfest with Megaband, the Instruments, and more!

Download some So Many Dynamos tracks here!

Two of our favorites on All Things Considered!

Candy Bars

Download: Candy Bars--"Violets"
The Theater Fire--"Fiddleback Weaver"

Two recent Cropper favorites--Candy Bars and The Theater Fire--here were featured on NPR's All Things Considered yesterday. Will Hermes did the piece on the two bands. The great thing about these bands being on NPR is that my dad and his type of folk might have actually heard the story and bought a record because of it. I don't know how many times my dad has asked me about bands he heard on NPR:

"Lucas, have you heard about this band The Glands?"
"Lucas, have you ever heard of this band called Sleater-Kinney?"

The Theater Fire

On a side note, my dad recently asked me who Robert Plant was and when I said he was the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, my father looked at me a little perplexed. He lived in Brazil from '69-'75, so I guess he has an excuse. But still.

I'm really glad that NPR is adventurous in their coverage, but the announcer (Michele Norris?) does sound kinda square when she overarticulates the phrase "indie rock."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Last week was a major hammjamm!

Download: Elf Power -- "Ghostbusters" (Ray Parker, Jr. cover)
Download: Elf Power -- "When You Sleep" (My Bloody Valentine cover)

Wow! So, I had a pretty great week. Our Summer Festival and Blue Ribbon Ball went off without a hitch. Besides the flash flood that happened right before the prom that knocked out half of the power in the city that is! But acts of nature aside, all of the bands really brought it. Our Athens bands (Iron Hero, Modern Skirts, Dark Meat, Now It's Overhead, Elf Power) acquitted themselves nicely alongside The Long Winters, Man Man (a force to be reckoned with), White Whale, and Pattern Is Movement. Elf Power were incredible as the prom band, ripping through such classics as "On The Road Again," "Cinnamon Girl," "Ballad of John and Yoko," and even "Ghostbusters." Incredible. I was dressed as an old-fashioned barkeep, for the record, complete with arm garters. I managed not to barf in my wife's purse or on the dog this year, so that's a good thing. In fact, there was absolutely no barfing to be found on my end. I did, however, try to convince one of the guys from Man Man to move to Birmingham, AL. He wasn't having any of it.

I also saw Tom Waits last Tuesday. Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.

You can download the entire Elf Power set at Southern Shelter, your source for live Athens stuff.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Come inside...the glow of the Black Neon is warm!

Download: The Black Neon—“Ralph and Barbara” MP3
Download: The Black Neon—“Hollywood 1, 2 & 3” MP3

Most often, an album serves as home to a bunch of otherwise wayward songs, segues, and other musical meanderings. The protocol for most albums involves inviting the listener inside for a quick tour and then presenting a unified sound and style. By “unified sound and style” I mean “collection of songs that pretty much sound the same.” Problems arise when the songs move in, hang out with one another, and begin to adopt the mannerisms and personalities of their friends until, ultimately, the home becomes nothing more than one homogenous sonic thought. Some have called it GBS or “Gin Blossom Syndrome,” and it’s an ailment that has afflicted many a band and songwriter. You see, The Gin Blossoms wrote a song in the early-mid-90’s and then turned that song into like three albums. Good for them. It allowed them to successfully fulfill their contract with A&M and make some money without having to really stretch or bend or push too hard.

The Black Neon is the Black Lodge to The GB’s White Lodge. The songs on their debut release, Arts and Crafts, shift from the sauntering electronic wizardry of geology filmstrip soundtracks to Beck-style funk jams that even the trashiest of the Eurotrash would be proud to shake their slender asses to. The album goes back to a less feverish pace but upon its return decides this time to incorporate the psych-pop brilliance of bands like Olivia Tremor Control and Super Furry Animals. The Black Neon smooth out the whole affair with a synthy sheen in the vein of Air and Beta Band but fail to reach a Michael McDonald level of smooth--that’s a good thing.

Arts and Crafts never comes off as over-produced or over-thought but it’s clear that The Black Neon are no Gin Blossoms. They’ve managed to craft a collection of songs that expands and contracts, and I’m guessing the album was no small feat. They make the stylistic transitions seem effortless so as to make Arts and Crafts a multifarious (but not disjointed) celebration of what good bands can do when they put the right amount of thought and effort into their records and push themselves to step outside the schema of what we’ve come to expect from an album. The best part is that they manage to do it all in under 36 minutes.

Round 2 of the Team Clermont Summer Festival!

THE hammjamm, indeed.

Holy crap. Last night was THE hammjamm. Iron Hero got things starting out all sweet and smooth before debuting some new rowdy rockers. Then LYLAS came and wooed the crowd with their superior songmanship...a real bunch of professionals. Nashville knows how to make musicians. Now It's Overhead sounded flat-out amazing and really knows how to fill up a room with sound. Finally, the Modern Skirts proved through the power of vocal harmonies why they're one of Athens' most popular new bands. A killer night all around.

And tonight is going to be just as good! Check it:

Tonight!—40 Watt Club, Athens, GA
Man Man—The Philly band that Pitchfork called America’s most underrated live band will be bringing their ramshackle Beefheart maraca-ed brilliance to Athens. Not to be missed. “There is vintage violence afoot, with sub-tone saxomoans and unmerry marimbas, speaking-in-tongues sing-songy vocals and garbled guitars all burping out a sloppy yet beautiful noise.” -- New York Press

Download: Man Man—“10 lb. Moustache” MP3

Dark Meat—A perfect compliment to Man Man’s live show, the 18 person-plus Dark Meat collective (full name: Dark Meat Vomit Lasers Family Band) comes off like CCR and Neil Young joining the circus on a mescaline bender. Horns, pots, pans, strings, two drummers, and lots of face paint. Featuring members of (are you ready for this?) Olivia Tremor Control, Elf Power, Circulatory System, Vicariously Through Cats, We Versus The Shark, Col. Knowledge and the Lickety-Splits, Hope For Agoldensummer, Venice is Sinking, the Ginger Envelope, Ceramic Dvck, among many, many others. Album coming soon on Cloud Recordings, home of Olivia Tremor Control and the Tall Dwarfs.

Download: Dark Meat—“Dead Man” MP3

White Whale—Merge Records’ newest sure-fire hitmakers, Lawrence, Kanas-based White Whale features Matt Suggs (of Butterglory fame) and a former member of the Get-Up Kids. Epic pop songs that recall the swing-for-the-fences aspects of Lieber-Stoller mixed with fellow travelers Secret Machines and Okkervil River.

Download: White Whale—“The Admiral” MP3

Pattern Is Movement—new Hometapes signees Pattern Is Movement will be making the hike down from Philly to regale us with their crazy live show. Math rock with heart? Completely deconstructed pop music? It’s hard to classify PIM, but that’s really what makes them so endearing. That and the absolutely staggering live show. A remix record with Scott Solter is on the horizon!

Download: Pattern is Movement/Scott Solter—“Maple” (remix) MP3

Come to the 40 Watt and hang with us! We love you long time!

Good Lookin' Lookin' Good

There's a hard-hitting expose on mustaches at the Pitchfork Festival, here. The Team Clermont Summer Festival and Blue Ribbon Ball, not to be outdone, presents this fine image from last night's show.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Oh my GAWD! It's the Team Clermont Summer Festival

Us in better, skinnier, less bald times.

We saw Tom Waits the other day, and I desperately want to talk about that. Because it was amazing. But I can't because today marks the beginning of the TEAM CLERMONT SUMMER FESTIVAL (and Blue Ribbon Ball)! Leave it to us to come up with a festival name that long-winded!

It all starts tonight at the 40 Watt Club here in Athens, GA with this hot lineup:

Modern Skirts—One of Athens’ most popular new bands, the Modern Skirts are piano-pop dynamos, equal parts Beach Boys, Ben Folds, and Joe Jackson with transcendent harmony skills. Paste Magazine says: “The Modern Skirts make crafting unforgettable pop seem as easy as a 25-piece Winnie the Pooh puzzle.”

Download: Modern Skirts – “New York Song” MP3

Now It’s Overheard—Saddle Creek artist Now It’s Overhead is led by Athens’ ace engineer Andy Lemaster (Bright Eyes, Azure Ray, pacificUV), a master of gorgeous melancholy. His new album, Day Light Daybreak, was recorded with the help on long-time compatriots Orenda Fink (Azure Ray), Maria Taylor (Azure Ray), and Clay Leverett (Lona).

Download: Now It’s Overhead—“Wonderful Scar” MP3

LYLAS—One of Nashville’s many rising indie stars, LYLAS plays out-of-time Cole Porter meets Donovan chamber-pop that is almost too intricate and well-written to be called rock and roll but too sly to be anything else. This band’s debut album, Lessons for Lovers, has been steadily building buzz all year.

Download: LYLAS--“His Master’s Merriment” MP3

Iron Hero—This six-piece Athens-based rock band plays “shoegaze for joggers,” rhythm-heavy epics heavy on ambience and intricacy. Josh McKay from Macha produced the band’s sterling debut, Safe As Houses.

Download: Iron Hero—“Pilot” MP3

Now that's something else! It's gonna be a real hammjamm! Show up if you're in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Take a bite!

Okay. If you haven't seen the Cannon Films' masterwork The Apple, you really should. Let me set it up for you:

The year is 1994 as filmed in a disco-addled 1980 Berlin where green stationwagons are the hottest cars around. Two kids from Moosejaw named Alphie and Bibi (sp?) generate a lot of heartbeats whilst competing in the WorldVision Contest and gain the attention of one Mr. Boogalow, an evil agent who pretty much rules the world and makes everybody wear sticky triangles. Anyway, Bibi is seduced by the glitz and glamour of Boogalow's world, but Alphie ends up living with his mom and then some hippies in some underground cave. Meanwhile, Bibi sings some songs about America's thirst for amphetamines, gets famous, and hangs out with a faux Roger Daltrey. Also, we encounter the worst vampire ever displayed on film. [SPOILER ALERT] Oh, and then God shows up and takes the hippies away in a glowing yellow Delta 88. Maybe. It's kind of hard to tell because nothing in that movie ever, ever, ever telegraphs or foreshadows this event. It comes out of freaking nowhere, but the movie acts like we should have seen this coming. It's 100% nuts.[END SPOILER]

Completely awesome. That is all.